The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
The desired norm of the Christian life involves trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as a young person, and then walking faithfully with Him for many years. This does not preclude, however, the possibility of salvation late in life, and of God's mighty working to glorify His Son in a far shorter span. For confirmation, let us consider the account of the saint and evangelist on the cross (commonly referred to as "the thief on the cross").
He had literally minutes to live. He had wasted his life to degree of acknowledging his rightful place on a cursed tree of shame, agony, and death. He should have had no expectation of an afterlife that involved anything less than Divine wrath and rejection. If remembered, his legacy would be expected to proclaim only ignominy. And yet...
"One of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43).
This man, this thief transformed into a saint on the cross, is now a citizen of Heaven. He will eternally dwell there in the presence of the living God, where there is "fullness of joy" and "pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). Moreover, for twenty centuries, his story has become the redeeming message that has led countless souls to faith in the Lord Jesus. The thief on the cross, now a citizen of Heaven, also serves as an evangelist of holy Scripture. A wasted life indeed, save for the brief moment wherein Divine grace redeemed one who will forevermore sing "Amazing Grace" with a heart of wonder and a voice beautified in strains of thrilled and loving gratitude. Indeed, will anyone throughout eternity love the Lord Jesus more than the thief who at the very end of a misspent life became a saint, an evangelist, and a son of the living God?
Actually, the truth of the matter is that even the believer who met the Lord as a child, and then lived a long, faithful, and fruitful life, must sing the old hymn with no less wonder, gratitude, and love. Every godly person will attest to their Heavenly Father's longsuffering patience, and to far too many times when faithful feet nevertheless wandered or even determinedly strode off the narrow path of righteousness onto avenues of waywardness. The longtime Christian must know his or her Father's grace as one of His children, something the former thief never knew. He didn't have enough time for this form and measure of experiencing undeserved favor in Christ. Those who have long walked with the Lord do know such grace. So, they will surely sing also with a heart no less full, and a voice no less accompanied by utter amazement.
Two preachers with whom I am familiar retired several years ago. One was asked how he wanted to be remembered. "As a man beyond reproach, and faithful to his Lord", he responded. The other replied differently when aked the same question. "Remember me as a man who had a patient, longsuffering, and faithful Savior whose grace continues to amaze me to this moment." I'll let you consider those responses and come to your own conclusion about them. I suspect the thief who became a saint and an evangelist while hanging on a cross would have an opinion. And I suspect we know what it is.
"And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests. And we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth forever and ever."
Weekly Memory Verse
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.